April 8, 2004

ICANN's Status Report - Devoid of Real Contents

I see that ICANN has published its latest status report to the US Dept of Commerce.

It's refreshing to see that ICANN has stopped trying to make it look impressive by larding it with lists of protocol parameters written down by IANA.

Thinking of IANA - The only technical content in the entire 36 pages is talk about the L root server. The report talks about the L server as if that server were part and parcel of ICANN. Yet doesn't that root server come to ICANN via a purchase order from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in which ICANN agrees to perform the IANA function? If so, then that root server job goes wherever the IANA purchase order goes and doesn't belong to ICANN any more than the Awhanee Hotel in Yosemite belongs to whoever is running the National Park concession at the moment.

And thinking about technical content - the report is full of talk about business matters and things that pretend to pertain to the technical stability of the internet. But when read carefully, the report indicates that ICANN, as it has for the last 5 years, has done nothing that really promotes the stability of the internet as measured by technical criteria.

In other words, this status report again reveals that ICANN is a self-centered organization that has so little impact on the technical stability that users of the internet would not notice any change were ICANN to disappear.

Thinking of invisibility - did you notice in the report how ICANN once again says that it will be entering into agreements with root server operators? Given the words of at least some of the root server operators, that agreement is unlikely to come into existance.

Or perhaps ICANN will once again foist-off a vacuous agreement as if it had substance. Take a look at the appendix 2 of the report in which ICANN tries to make us believe that the goal of internet oversight and stability is promoted via a letter of intent with the IP address registries to agree to a memorandum of understanding that institutionalizes the independence of those registries and instutionalizes ICANN's abrogation of any real role in IP address allocation policies.

One has to wonder why all the ICANN-sponsored hoopla about its ALAC (an onomatopoeic acronym is there ever was one) - If ICANN continues to sign agreements in which ICANN abandons technical oversight then what good is public participation in ICANN (except, perhaps, to counter ICANN's role, a role well described in this status report, as regulator of business and economic use of the internet?)

I see that ICANN is finally thinking of firing up the old independent review function. I hope that they do not forget that I and I believe others have pending matters for independent review dating back several years.

All-in-all this report certainly has a strong resemblance to one of those school days' reports - we all wrote 'em - in which we spent a lot of effort inflating a tiny bit of material into a something with enough heft that the lack of content might not be noticed.

Overall grade: A lot of time and money spent with little results. There are no results at all with respect to ICANN's primary mission, the reliable and stable operation of the upper layer of the internet's domain name system and IP address allocation system. The Department of Commerce should seriously consider reaching for the plug.

Posted by karl at April 8, 2004 10:23 AM